Tunvar Mujahid: Gujarat may be fighting a pandemic, but the chief minister is not only handling the Covid19 crisis but also trying to ensure his continuity in office as the state head. There is no denying that as the Covid19 numbers reach new highs every day, it has eroded the image of the chief minister. So it comes as no surprise that a massive effort to shore up this image through public relation agencies and pro-government authors is being unleashed on the citizens.
The crisis managers of the hired agencies would like the 6.5 crore Gujaratis to believe that their leader is the only saintly being. So don’t be surprised if in the coming days, Gujaratis are bombarded with positive messages about Rupani and are emotionally blackmailed through write ups to take a better look at their CM and find in him qualities that the PR agency wants you to find.
A campaign through tweets and other means are afoot to brush up the image of the CM, to show him as a good, decent, pious and humane person. So don’t be startled if you come across a post that says Rupani is a ‘common man’ too decent to play politics and hence the rumours about his leadership are nothing but smear campaigns by jealous colleagues and opportunistic opposition and partymen.
But what the PR agency forgets is that most Gujaratis happen to be decent, humane and deeply religious and pious. Even today, most will never step out of their homes without performing the morning prayer. Long queues outside temples in the morning and evening is the norm in Gujarat. Perhaps, except for a few exceptions, it is safe to say that most citizens of this state are law-abiding, decent, devout human beings. In such a situation it seems a bit over-the-top to portray the CM as the only decent and devout person in the state.
At a time when the state faces a challenge such as Covid19, what it needs is a leader who can lead from the front. One who is not afraid to take bold and quick decisions and who has innovative and out-of-box ideas to take us out of this mess. A leader who relies on others instructions or waits for a green signal from the top is not what we need right now. We need excellent and strong leadership on a war-footing. As corona cases come close to 8,000 in the city, there still seems to be a terrible coordination problem in dealing with the issue. Under such circumstances, as questions are being raised about the state’s handling of the crisis, the agencies are busy ensuring that Rupani does not get in the bad books of the state’s citizens.
Meanwhile, as lockdown 3.0 is in progress, reports of clashes between cops and citizens are coming in. These are situations that could have been avoided with better management. We need to ask who is responsible for this mismanagement. The fact that decisions are being taken at the top level and overturned at the lower level shows either the officials are confused about the instructions being given or they have decided to follow their own set of rules.
Take for example the migrant crisis. First the government allowed migrants to travel but on the ground police prevented the travel of many who had migrated within the state. The constantly changing rules and its poor implementation has also had a hand in the CM’s leadership abilities being brought into question.
Kerala has managed to control its Covid19 figures because of effective coordination and strong leadership. The state did not bring a dozen rules every day to confuse its citizens. The state CM led from the front, directly interacting with the media and informing the people about the situation. By contrast, in Gujarat, until the situation went out of hand, everyone other than the chief minister was issuing new rules and instructions.
Even before the state wins the war against Covid19, a battle is afoot to ensure a better image of the chief minister. And, there is no denying that the battle for the CM’s image is being fought much much better than the war against Covid19. In fact, you must have already begun to experience a piece of action through social media channels.